It’s been a long, hard year, and I need a real treat …
Whilst it’s not all been bad news, Spring Term was dominated by an insidious, invidious, but ultimately innocuous illness that lingered like an unwelcome guest at a party, refusing to take all the hints I could throw at it that it needed to exit stage left. Summer Term replaced that with a series of professional setbacks and niggles that have led to my heavy-hearted decision to leave a school I always thought I would (eventually) retire at, and where I work daily alongside some of my closest friends. ‘You do the math‘, as Shakespeare never said.
I’m currently open to offers inside and outside the profession, by the way …
… is that the job is, frankly, shit. And that you have to be a shit to do it successfully.
PTS read-through: King John, Act IV.
If you’re not ‘born great’, if you want to achieve greatness, you have to put in the hours, right? Just think of the graft involved: wheeling and dealing; equivocating; making and breaking alliances; sucking up; marrying well (not, alas, for love); adding colours to the chameleon; changing shapes with Proteus; and generally setting the murderous Machiavel to school.
Having broken out of my Romeo and Juliet-induced enervation, I approached King John with a sense of excitement bolstered by my positive experiences with the Henry VI plays. Unusually, maybe impatiently, I skipped my Arden’s introduction and got stuck in after finding these hopeful signs elsewhere:
“a neglected play about a flawed king” [a]
“King John has all the beauties of language and all the richness of the imagination to relieve the painfulness of the subject.” [b]
Step up to the podium, Mr. Howie Carr. Radio host, Boston Herald Columnist, and ironically, the author of a book called Kennedy Babylon: A Century of Scandal and Depravity. Which I suppose makes him a specialist on Scandal and Depravity, right? No wonder he is a Trump supporter.
He’s also the man who had this to say about Barack Obama:
‘this country handed everything to Barack Obama. He didn’t have to work for anything. Just because of the color of his skin he was given everything. And he still hates the country.’ [a]
Disgusting racism aside, I seem to remember that Donald Trump was ‘given everything’, and has managed to squander quite a bit of it. Anyway, you get the picture. So, what’s Mr Carr done to upset William Shakespeare?
Maybe it’s ironic to quote an author I haven’t read – apart from a single short story in a SF anthology (‘The Way of the Cross and the Dragon’ (1978), if anyone’s interested) – but this is the second time I’ve used GRR Martin‘s quotation (and indeed this image):
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.’
‘Everyone‘ says I would love Martin’s work if I could find the time to read it, by the way. It’s not even close to reaching the slopes of Mount Tsundoku at the moment.
If Marxist literary criticism were renamed, say Contextual Critical Theory, I wonder if it would be taken more seriously by the uninitiated … like rebranding Labour as ‘New Labour’ in the UK helped Tony Bliar (intentional misspelling) come to power in 1997 … How can we possibly dissociate a text from the society in which it was created, or indeed from the intertextual cauldron that formed the author’s views?
For too many of the 600,000 students who sit that GCSE, it’s their final taste of Shakespeare …
Shakespeare is the only author that everyone over here has to study. Unless, it appears, you live in Scotland (and someone might be able to correct me on that if I have misread the SQA specification) …
‘For divers unknown reasons‘ as Richard III would say, I’ve been engaged in a little research of what our exam boards offer at Key Stage 4 – that is for the 15/16 year-olds who sit their GCSE English Literature. I think it throws up some interesting points: